Rules for warriors of truth

I’m known to be a despot about books. While I am totally against book banning, I have no reservations about slamming a book down someone’s throat.
There are books that I will demand my friends read, to the point of taking said book, handing it to them or literally smacking them on the heads with it.
“You. Have. To. Read. This. Book.”

There is one book I think all journalists, editors and yes, even bloggers must read. It is called ‘The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect’.
On the subject of bloggers, it would be nice for you to read it but it isn’t absolutely essential if all you blog about are personal subjects. Now if you’re one of those so-called sociopolitical bloggers, then I probably will hit you on the head with it. WIth a lot of force because most of you piss me off that much.
Two excerpts from the reviews of the book:

“Don’t even think of becoming a reporter, editor, columnist or influential blogger without reading this modern classic.”

-William Safire,

The New York Times


The Elements of Journalism…belongs on the shelf of every citizen who reads the paper or watches the tube.”

Roger Mudd

Wall Street Journal

It angers me to read a lot of the reporting on the current hot topic – the Allah issue – as there is a lot of sensationalist, ridiculous speculation going on. I was hopping mad when one online publication reported rumours as fact.
Irresponsible journalism is unforgivable. Journalists are purveyors of truth, after all. It made me even more angry to see text messages being sent out that claimed cars were burning in PJ and Christians must remove all their religious paraphenalia and PROTECT THEIR CARS.
No, not look after yourselves, be careful, or pray. The message is ‘LOOK AFTER YOUR CARS’. I am disgusted with the abject selfishness and materialism shown by these so-called  Christians. If you were a Christian, you’d know you don’t own anything. God does. It’s His car, not yours. Pray for your country, its people and not your damn cars.
Back to the book, here are the elements of journalism as espoused by said book:

  1. Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.
  2. Its first loyalty is to citizens.
  3. Its essence is a discipline of verification.
  4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.
  5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power.
  6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
  7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant.
  8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
  9. Its practitioners have an obligation to exercise their personal conscience.
  10. Citizens, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news.

Do our journalists and publications follow those elements. For the most part, no. Our newspapers are mostly glorified party newsletters. Or worse, patsies of advertisers.

The press should serve the people but they are now beholden to the people who actually pay their salaries. Hint: it’s not the people.
No wonder circulation is down. It’s because the public no longer trusts in the mainstream media. Journalists no longer know how to be journalists and the public doesn’t even know what they should expect, no, demand from them.
Standards of reporting are down. Standards of writing are down.

It’s everyone’s fault, really, for allowing those standards to drop.
Then we have bloggers and those who Tweet. I believe in a right to free speech and expressing opinons but some of these people are just plain irresponsible.

Some silly girl on Twitter was claiming that no Malays offered help to rebuild or protect churches.
Who are you, little girl? A journalist? Were you on a church board? You didn’t check your facts, but instead made hateful comments and worsened the situation. You complain about Malay/Muslims being racist but take a good long look at the mirror and tell me what you see.

Would God really be proud of your self-righteousness and blatantly ignoring the truth?
If you refuse to be part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
As a writer and occasional blogger, I am beholden to the truth. My personal stance is that I refuse to be anyone’s mouthpiece. Not BN, not Pakatan nor any religion.

I belong to God, not religion. I believe in His mercy, His compassion, His grace. But I will not be any religion’s mouthpiece, nor push any agenda that does not place truth at the heart of it.
So please, before you forward any moronic SMS or hate Tweet/post/email, think. Is this the truth? Can I prove it is the truth? Will I really be doing good or harm by spreading these words.
Think. Pray if you do pray. Ask. Verify.
Else you will just be part of the problem.

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Self-help or Psuedo-Crap?

So I am perving on Lifehacker again. I can’t help it. I love the site to bits – though my productivity goes to zero when I’m in the middle of lovingly perusing its archives.

And I find this excerpt of a book I feel I MUST HAVE. Scott Berkun’s Making Things Happen. It’s a book about project management.

David Lian says I remind him of a friend of his who loves self-help books.

Well, I like some of those things.

Brain Rules, for instance, RULES.

Another friend of mine, who I shall refer to as My Favourite Monkey or MFM, hates the things.

MFM says: "They’re all common sense wan!"

Well, some people just need telling.

Of course, some self-help books are merely stinking masses of psychobabble-ish crap.

But I can’t name the books because

1. I could get into trouble. I really don’t feel like dealing with the legions of cultists who will leave long, ranty comments on my blog.
2. Some of my friends swear by some of the titles I detest.

I don’t read the books about making money or getting to the top.

But I do read books like Rabbi Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

Sometimes you need reminders that you aren’t the only one hurting. And sometimes, the best people to talk to when you’re in a dark place is someone who knows what it’s like. Who can say, with truth, that they sat in the long darkness and waited for the light to come.

And it came. You know it’s true, because they’ve seen the end of the dark tunnel. So now that they can see, they can reach a hand out for you to hold on to until that day you can see too.

“Geeks use their power for good and evil”

Un_lun_dun_pb__jktChina MiĆ©ville’s written a brilliant kid’s book – Un Lun Dun. Wacky, fun and extraordinarily whimsical but then MiĆ©ville’s always been the self-proclaimed king of weird.

For instance: what do you get when you cross a trashcan with a ninja? Binjas! And who needs a talking animal when you can have a cute, discarded milk carton instead? Oh, and it makes cute, whimpery animal noises too. And giving away its name would be too much of a spoiler.

Un Lun Dun’s premise of a young girl caught in the middle of a prophecy gone wrong in a parallel universe is an interesting amalgam of ideas. Most of the time, it works. Anyone who loves words and hilarious flights of fancy will enjoy this book. It’s just too much fun not to recommend.

In other news, am leaving for Hong Kong tomorrow and finishing as much work as I can today. Back Tuesday, away from the insanity that is Malaysia right now. Am also a little depressed at hearing of people I know migrating to greener pastures. There’s now a glimmer of hope of us being able to make baby steps in making change happen. But it’s too little, too late for some people. And I have to understand that some people can’t afford to wait for our country to get its act together.